Togo Travel Stories, Page 32

One Use Gear Problem

One Use Gear Problem
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 28, 2007

Size matters, the normal backpacker I would estimate carries about 50 liters of items, I carry 80 and want to go to 100, or double the normal. The travelers are just too weak to carry 80 pounds or 40 Kilos a long distance, wheels that can be pulled over the ruts and gravel are the solution, but always made too heavy and big.

I see lots of cool gear; most is to me a joke and a great marketing of stupid items. Some are very good for certain uses, for example that camel pack water holder, may work very good for bike riders, and long day trekkers. I see it as just a waste of time for me, and they do not tell me how to clean, it is not designed for cleaning and sanitary, plus the taste of plastic is a problem. Humans need water, the world has water, and to walk into the desert for long periods is not a normal thing for people. I find that a Coca Cola bottle frozen is my best choice, but to carry three or four is a problem, then maybe a frozen water bag would be good, or better yet, a bag designed to carry four bottle in balance, balance is the problem.

What can I use the bag for, except for water? This bag and the small bag it has with it is too large. I am not going to use it for a shower. A bucket and a dipper is a much better use of water, a shower used three to five times the water than a dip shower. I have many uses for a bucket, clothe, shower, drinking water, and it very bad situations a toilet.

One-use-gear, I want ever piece of gear to be used for three and more uses.

Mosquito net, a popular subject.
1. Mosquitoes.
2. Blanket
3. Clothesline in room.
4. The lines that hold the mosquito net I use for both a clothesline and to tie extra bags to my larger bag.
5. I hope to adapt my mosquito net to hang over doorways. I need a mosquito net for a door, so I can open the door and allow air in the room. My windows have screens, but there is no screen door.

- Sheet
- Blanket
- Hammock for sleeping
- Towel sometimes
- Bed

Dutch oven Cooker
- Cooking
- Container to protect very valuable and breakable items inside while traveling.
- Hold water for drinking
- Shield to protect candles from wind

- Clothes
- Rope for tieing
- Hold Mosquito net
- Used as a dresser, I put a clothesline in my room, so I can one dry my towel faster and not have it mildew in the bag. If I put the line outside, I forget or it is stolen. However, I use it to hang all my clothes up in the room on the line, I never have more than 2-3 real clothes hangers in a room, and the normal is zero. I can hang all the clothes up and keep the ants out of my clothes.
- Hang lantern on line

Note: Anything you take outside the room to store, an umbrella, and a shirt on the line, a clothesline, loan your guidebook to a friend, any gear that leaves the room will be forgotten or lost. I do not take my gear outside the room and dry or store, I do not leave my shoes outside, and I keep everything in one box, called my room. When I want to leave, I pack everything in my bag and leave. If I loan my guidebook to a friend, I hand it to them, and sit around with them until they are done. If they want the guidebook, go to a copy machine and get them to pay to copy the pages, loaning a guidebook is a very dangerous misuse of information. It is irreplaceable here in Togo; I have no idea how to buy another Rough guide here in Togo.

I forgot and purchased online the Lonely Planet East Africa on, because I have always used the Lonely Planet. I have decided for Africa to change to the Roughguide, I want the Roughguide East Africa, how can I buy. Maybe, the only option is to find all the airports, Lome, Cotonou, Lagos,, Cameroon and visit all of them for a guidebook or the hope of buying a Roughguide. I can also visit all the Peace Corps office and try to get them to be friendly, some are, most are not. Actually two guidebooks would be great, Lonely and Rough and French one also, to find French girls. The weigh a ton, a book is heavy.

The most value commodity in the world is information.

One use gear, I look at all my gear and think, can I buy it in Togo, and how many uses do I have for the one item.

Then you have the multiple use items that are better purchased as many parts, the multiple uses cause problem. I guarantee you will lose small items, and if valuable, other travels will forget to return.

Multiple Use Items that need to be purchased as one use.:

Swiss Knife
- Number one problem, people steal them.
- Number two problem, the cost of the Knife should be under 10 US.
- But the big problem is you cannot clean it easy from peanut butter and the knife blades are not long enough to cut a pineapple, the number one use for a knife by me.

I have a knife now, with a long cutting blade, 300 CFA, I lost my other one….

I lost my other one, if this was a Swiss knife, I would have lost my knife, fork, screwdriver, hammer maybe, toothpick and whatever other toys are on the knife.

I have a fork
Screwdriver - both phillips and slotted for my computer back.
No hammer

I have them all as separate items, when I forget one or lose one, I do not lost everything, only one.

Hennessey Hammock Tent - Note, I have never seen one up close.
- I have a Hammock
- I have a mosquito net
- I have a rain poncho that is a tent

Combined as one unit these items are almost worthless, separated they are very valuable.

Poncho has many uses.
- Protect my bag on top of bus in rain.
- Walking in rain after bus ride
- Blanket in room
- Tent

This is all my thinking because I am dwelling on my cooking of foods. I need a stove, which is a multi use stove.
- Cook with alcohol
- Cook with 220 or 110 - 12 Volt Electric
- Cook with wood and a small fan for super cooking in base

Then the thing needs to be the size of a very large mug, but maybe wider.

I can see the design in my head, but I would have trouble making. I am not sure how to do the 220 - 110 - 12 Volt cooking. Adapters are often bigger than the cookers.

Note, I type out this list to think, people read blogs to think or plan out gear, I need to adapt and change always. I dump a lot of gear, then buy again, most gear is not gear, it something they sell anywhere, special gear is difficult, it causes problems.

Nylon Poles for tent - I want or a wish, I need is strong.
- To use to hit people and defense
- To use for mosquito net
- To add reinforcement in my bag
- To prop up cooking things
- To use as walking stick
- To use to make my poncho into a tent

I do not have nylon poles, because the are difficult to buy in Togo, and they must be less than 22 inches long to fit in my bag, and weigh in total about three quarters pound and have a removable. - I said removable elastic rope inside, that keep them organized. I set up tents and mosquito nets in the dark.

Swiss Knife, Gear, West Africa Gear, Hammock, Tent, Mosquito Nets, Knives, Clotheline, Rope, Tie or Binding Items, Room Dresser, Clothes

One Use Gear Problem

Street Children Photo Request

Street Children Photo Request
Akakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 27, 2007

Photo I took in Manila, Philippines near the Ermita Area.

I received today a request for a larger, better quality photo of the Street Children I took in Manila. Note, I shrink every photo to smaller size for the internet, and have done so now for about two years, but I still do not think are magazine quality in size. Sony 12 X Camera.

The request:

Name: Vincent ten Bouwhuis
Country: UK

Dear Madam / Sir,
From your website there is an image -187-02-street-children-philipines- that I would like to use for our charity-s leaflet, to illustrate the desperate needs of these streetchildren, however the resolution (dpi) is not high enough for print, can you please e-mail us a High resolution image and permission to use this image for our non-profit charity leaflet?
Our registered charity number is 1118814
And we raise funds to build orphanages and house and care for orphans and street children, we currently work on projects in Bali, Indonesia and India and will expand to Philipines, Thailand, Vietnam
Thank you in advance
the image came from the following link:

Kind regards
Vincent ten Bouwhuis

Vincent ten Bouwhuis Ministries & Worldwide Missionary Foundation
2nd floor
145 - 157 St John Street
London EC1V 4PY

Website Name: VTB ministries & Worldwide Missionary Foundation
Website URL:


I found the larger photo and I am able to send. What do you think? Should I sent the bigger photo they can use for brochures.

About a month or two ago, I received another request from inside the Philippines wanting photos of Street Children.

Both are starting orphanages or something.

There is this question I ask myself, why? I do not work with street children, I am just a guy that walks around at 7:00 am and took some photos, easy to do, and children sleeping are easy photos to take. Plus children cannot get up and beat my butt, easy photos to take, if you are where there are street children.

If you are where there are street children, these photos are very easy to take…

If you are where there are street children.

Should I send the big dpi high density photos to the children?

I could take hundreds of photos of children sleeping in the street, not a difficult photo to take in the tropics. What was interesting and intriguing to me, what there was this orphanage in Manila, just 25 to 50 meter way from where I took this photo.

If this place is for street children, then they missed some, only about 25 to 50 meters from this building… hehehe

Note, I would guess 1 in 30-50 people who grab or use a photo ask permission first, normal is to just take, this is a good sign. Then again there is no high dpi photo on the site, they have to request.

If a person asked me for money for old people living in the streets, I would be much more inclined to give. The bottom line, the only organization that can truly help street children in a country, is the government of the country. Every time you give to an organization for street children, unless is a lobby to get the country with Street Children Government to do something, then we just enable by love to keep the country from doing their job.

On the other hand, I am thinking about sleeping outside, it is hot in this room, people sleep outside when it very hot, not as simple as just looking and seeing children, then making radical assumptions. I would go find a place on the sidewalk, out of the rain.

I have been thinking, I think I should go and knock on every NGO-ONG office I can find and see if there is anybody there at say, 11:00 am in the morning on a Tuesday.

Children, Street Children, Social Issues, Togo, NGO

Street Children Photo Request

Buying Mosquito Nets

Buying Mosquito Nets
Atakpame, Togo West Africa

I would say Ash has tried to use a Mosquito net. I went and found a photo from in Natitingou, Benin whereby I was using a Mosquito net every day in the Auberge USA.

This link of photos has this photo.

This is a page link from my prior trip to West Africa while in Natitingou, Benin.

Ok, from my experience, the big problems with mosquito nets.

1. There is no way to attach it to wall. I cannot drive nails into walls, I do not carry a hammer, and the walls, which need mosquito nets, can fall down… hehehe. I have no idea how to drive hole in wall, sometimes I do put eyelet screws into crack in the joints of concrete blocks.

I think I need a hand-powered screwdriver that had a very small cement drill bit on the end. When you push it, it spins and could slowly drill a hole in concrete, carry some nails and push them in, or use a rock.

Normally as Ash said the roofs are too high or there is no way, I use the door hinge to hang my clothesline on about half the time and the louvered windows of Africa are great. Pictures really help, so do electrical wires on walls.

2. Second problem is size or bulk. I have a full size, rectangular soft mosquito net. The question is this, do you sleep with girls sometimes, and I do not want a mosquito net touching me. When it is hot, it is hot, and mosquito nets are very hot.

Compression Bag, I use a compression bag I found to compress my soft mesh, not the hard mesh mosquito net. A big enough mosquito net for two people has about one meter of mesh and 1.2 meter would be perfect sidewalls. I really want the top the size of rectangular single bed and the bottom larger than a double or queen mattress.

This would reduce the size of net, but keep the stupid thing off me when I sleep.

3. The rope need to be very long to reach the nails. Then it needs to be very light, but very long, to connect to any room in anywhere, you are going to need 1.5 meters or small rope, nylon woven is best, and very small, you have to be able to untie the knots when you make a mistake, or have room to cut. It will be dark when you take this down or put it up often.

4. Staying tucked in, I have a pull string around the bottom, this pulls up the bottom tight and keeps it tucked in like a good elastic fitted sheet, but allow me to get out. I do not like the idea that repellant is going to keep the insect out. I am not going to carry this type of liquid in my bag. I have trouble enough with the fear of what insect repellant can so to my bag and items in my bag. You need to bag, have special bottle, and trip bag things like this, you need to know how to carry liquids like mosquito repellant and mosquito net treatment. I like the idea of treating mosquito net, but after I leave the USA, that will be the last treatment it receives, unless the world starts to have gear shops.

5. Cost, they want too much money for one in a gear store, the good parts about gear store ones are they are light mesh. A mosquito net in most of the world cost less than 5 dollars US. India has terrible mosquito net material, you need to buy one before you go there, and most other places are ok.

6. Sex, you need to think about girls, companions and the stupid jerk who you decided you was going to travel with and you need to baby-sit and is getting eaten alive by mosquitoes until you say, ok, get under the net. I want one big enough to move.

7. BEING Awake - I do not sleep only in my room. I also am awake and need to either use a mosquito net or want to sit up. The more room the better, the one photo is a way to have half the bed for mosquito net and half open for when it is safe.

When a mosquito net is not being used during the day, you need to pull it out if you can, and through it over the top, this will keep bugs and other insects from entering the compartment. At this time, take some killer, something that kills them, and spray the net to kill them small whachamacallits that are so small you cannot seem them.

8 HUGE problem and difficult, the repellent would help. In places like the Amazon, on corners of river, and places like I was on near Iquitos, there are so many insects you need a bottom. There is also an extremely dense, small and very hot and heavy mosquito net material you can buy in places like Iquito Peru on the Amazon River.

9. Hammocks, mine is adapted to be used with a hammock, I did use this in Rurrenbaque, Bolivia this way and slept outside, if you are going to the real jungle, the ground is wet, you need a hammock, I then pull the pull string tight and I am enclosed.

I am getting tired of this, I could easily write days on this subject.

I am going to modify this net again, if I can find some soft mesh or net here in Africa. I would think about some changes, and buying extra mesh or net.

Hooks - A good number 11 fishhook, will bite into a wall, I have them on my backpack organizer, the weight of the clothes in my long organizer pulls down and a real large number 11 hook will bite or cut into the wall, and hook good. I can pound the hook into a wood wall, and then use a way to connect the net.

Self- Propping Net, I think an excellent idea, Chris sent me one, too small and needed a bottom sown in it, I tend to think a bottom is better, because then you would not have to tuck in, and risk tearing the net, but then you need to have a sheet to sleep on.

I opted not to bring the self-propping net because of the weight of the poles, they way a lot. A mosquito net is only used about one time every six months, and by more adventurous sorts, the normal traveler does not even have a net and throws it away because it is too big and heavy.

I hate to sleep in a hammock they are very hard and I do not like my feet up in the air and my head.

10. Do not under-rate or value a fan, a good fan will keep the mosquitoes off you.

11. If you are living long enough in a room to find a hammer, drench your net in liquids, have all this stuff. Why not consider putting net on your windows and forget the mosquito nets.

I continue to stay in room that are 2 and 3 dollars per night, I went and stayed in peoples homes.

The time I was eaten the most was in a hotel in Brugge Belgium, big windows, not net, an expensive room and mosquitoes everywhere.

Next time, I think I will talk about dorm beds and mosquito nets…hehehe

I should make a list of all the creative way I have found to connect to the wall a mosquito net or more often my clothe lines. Oh, yea, take along a clothes line if you want to use a mosquito net. Amazing how a line diagonally across a room will hold a net.

I use plastic clothe pins to hold the net open during the day, for sure you need the clothes line and the pins. A mosquito net makes a good clothes line also.

Women, do not forget, men like women, are you the only one sleeping in the bed?

I need one of them screw ratchet screwdrivers with a good very small cement drill bit, then some number 6 argoz, or what do you call them, the twisted nails used for plywood and such.

I tend to think some one in the UN has a sweetheart deal to supply 50 dollar Mosquito nets to the poor people free, that cost them 3 dollars to make. Because they have convinced them to say they need to be treated. The bottom line is sustainability can you buy this liquid here in Atakpame, Togo? Or doe the ONG, make a big pile of money by way of promotion of this net to people, then acting like all the competitors selling good cheap nets are bad.

One is just better, but not a huge amount. One dollar is one days pay here.

I am in favor of treatment of nets, I am also in favor of telling people to do what the can afford to do.

Mosquito, Mosquito Nets, Annoyances, Insects, Gear, West Africa Gear,

Buying Mosquito Nets

Togo Playing in Rain

Togo Playing in Rain
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 27, 2007

For three day straight days, at about 2-3 in the afternoon, we have received a country cooling rain here in Togo. Contrary to any mythical movie type thoughts, it normally rains only about one hour in the afternoon, then it will start about 8-9 at night and rain all night in the so-called Monsoon areas. If you are in a real Rain Forest, like in Coca Ecuador, up on the mountain there, it will almost always be raining, or you are living inside a cloud.

These children from down below the hotel immediately came up after the storm stopped and played under the spouts coming from the roof of my Hotel.

This boy decided to wash his shirt, I am not sure why, I think he want an excess amount of water to rinse his clothes. I am positive he access to water, he is alive.

This is a photo from a big storm in the Danyi Apeyeme village on the Danyi Plateau.

I finally realized, fresh drinking water is always available any place on the planet it rains. The problem is to collect and store the water.

This is rain drained off a rusty roof into a large 55-Gallon Barrel. I thought maybe it was bad to drink yet this website sort of says, no problem.

I am in a Rain area of West Africa, there is more rain in this belt than most parts of the planet.

Water, Food, Togo,

Togo Playing in Rain

Togo Hotel Workers

Togo Hotel Workers
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 27, 2007

I am different from a normal person, I wake up in the morning anywhere from 4:00 am to 7:00, then on a day when I oversleep 8:00 am, and to sleep past 8:00 am is difficult.

It is 4:54 am in the l’Amities Hotel or Auberge, in Atakpame, Togo.

Some man has turned on the radio quite loud, this is normal in a way; a person wants something, why should or would they care about anyone else. This self-absorbed, self-center behavior is normal on the planet, this is common.

What I am not sure about, and what is different. There is a man that is sweeping the courtyard of the Hotel. I do not know this man, he has come every morning at about 4:30 am, or this is the time my conscious level realizes he is sweeping, this I in my courtyard and is my hotel. I went to get water for coffee, as I do not have a shower or toilet in my room, while doing this, I decided to take a look to be sure it is not a neighbor. It is not, it is a worker in this Hotel, I have checked on two separate days.

What is going on, why is this man here sweeping and cleaning the courtyard? I hear water running, maybe he is going to clean the showers and toilet. There may be a different person with the radio, he needs hit with a 2x4, swift and fast.

This hotel need a manager and a worker, there is an extreme overabundance of workers.

This hotel presently maybe has 2-3 rooms rented, it is possible there are more, but difficult to see if there are more. There are maybe five people in the hotel as residents.
I will count the number of people working here.

2 - Live on the premises reception girls, one is Janet, the other, and I am not sure.
1 - Man who sweeps
1 - Do the labor man, which is around all day and knows the most about the hotel, small and nice, I think his name is Hussein.
1 - Man who irons clothes outside at the entrance way and uses a charcoal iron.
1 - Manager Lady maybe is the owner, somewhat fat seems to be the manager, and gives orders and sit around eating and watching TV or sleeping on the couch in the reception area. I go not talk with her, seems like a good way to take a hit to my good Karma.

6 People are deriving income or wages at some level from a hotel that has about 5 people living in the hotel.

These ratios are interesting to me as a business owner or person who has owned a business. Why do they need so many people?

This hotel could be managed easily with 2 people; there are only about 10 rooms, or less.

I have observed a few small employee management aspects of about 80 percent of the planet or those countries, for the most part, excludes the USA or Europe.

I am going to limit this to Hotel businesses.

1. An employee is not required to keep busy working while are work.
2. Many employees sleep at the business during the night.
3. Food is normally included in the pay from a Hotel business.
4. Workers are related or semi distantly related to the owner.
5. Very few employees are fired or lose their jobs.
6. The principle manager or person who is essential management is a woman.
7. The man or husband manager - owner of a property does no work, and does close to zero management of staff.
8. The man or husband manager normally is sitting in some common area, eating, drinking, talking with his friends and watching TV.
9. In West Africa the management woman is very fat.
10. In West Africa the management top level does no work.
11. Employees and all staff of a hotel spend about 20-50 percent of their time watching TV, talking with their friends, preparing food to eat.
12. 25 percent of the time is spent sleeping somewhere in the hotel.
13. About 10 percent of the time is spent moving around in what could be considered work in a reach.
14. It takes the staff of a hotel approximately 5 minutes to clean a room after a resident leaves, and in a good hotel, it will be about 10-15 minutes.
15. About 75 percent of hotels the management, reception staff cleans the rooms, or maybe do not clean the rooms.
16. Mops can be very hard to find in a hotel to use to clean my room, here in Africa I think almost impossible. The would use a towel of some sort or mostly they just sweep, Asia is very good at mopping and you can walk and are expected to walk in your room with no shoes.

I am going to stop, as a side note, in the USA, often people that clean the rooms are foreigners or immigrants to the USA. The do not speak English well and have never lived in a clean room, the reason I say this it is difficult to clean to the hygiene levels of a western person when you have never lived that way in your life.

I think often about starting a small Hostel or more correctly, a cheap Hotel, what is difficult for me is the culture of workers and managers.

Various cultures have idiosyncrasies of business. Latinos drink a lot of beer, Asians will endlessly sweep, and Mexico will water the front dirt for hours. Nepal mops the floor by hand or on their hands and knees. India used the top cover and may never clean.

West Africa has one management aspect that it maybe self-defeating, and a block to growth of a business beyond maybe 10 employees. When a person becomes a top or head manager in a West African business or when they become the owner, they plan or believe at this level they can stop working and sit.

I just do not know, the only way to have a business in West Africa is maybe to hire Lebanese management or India management, which is the only solution I can think of and really is not a solution. Somehow, there needs to be no managers, the title of manager is the problem, makes the manager think he or she is the Baba, the Chief, the King or some upper level caste person who by right of some reason, is not the same as the other workers.

How to design a business with no manager. This many not be as complicated as you would think. Staff here in the hotel receive very few order from management, almost zero, and I am about 99 percent sure the woman never checks to see if the staff has cleaned the rooms.

I have spent the last few years in Asian cultures, and it has changed me, I now think in terms of walking around barefoot in the room. I feel compelled to take off my shoes when I enter a room. This is a big problem here in West Africa as the floors have this dust level ingrained on them because they do not mop, if my feet are wet, they instantly accumulate dirt on the bottoms of my feet. The solution here is to wear sandals all the time, and when you enter the bed, you sit and slide the sandals off and swing your feet into the bed.

The other day, I walked to the shower the first day in the Hotel; the staff saw me and slid some sandals under the door of the common shower. I do not use and will not use common sandals. I would rather use a common toilet and sit on the same toilet seat that is occasionally cleaned as opposed to sandals that are never cleaned. I can clean the toilet seat; I cannot clean common used sandals.

Well, back to the employment thing, what are outside the social and cultural brain wave of a person from the USA are two things.

1. Workers are not required to work, the cost of labor is so cheap, that a worker is suppose to be there, they are expected to work, but at about any speed and when they wish, with very small amounts of guidance.

2. Stealing is not stealing in many countries. It is extremely normal here in West Africa for the under-staff not the top staff to rent a room for a short time and pocket the money. What is considered stealing or corrupt is not even close to the USA way of thinking, and one reason I think the French and Lebanese, and India make good managers here, they will work and the stealing to them is normal.

Dow Chemical
I was living in Midland, Michigan for about one year or two; there is the Dow Chemical plant there. I made a naïve and stupid comment to a manager in some status of the Dow Chemical business.

I said to him, some statement that they pay their workers excessively much money.

He said,
- The cost of wages is not an essential factor; we do not make money by the labor of workers. -

This was sort of startling when I thought about it, I realized they had these huge chemical factories whereby computer, pipes, technicians monitor extreme amounts of chemicals, maybe millions of dollars worth of medicines or chemicals and one person paid 50,000 was not even a factor.

I remember working on the farm, my summer wages at 2 dollar per hour accumulated to about 2000 to 3000 per summer. If the price of corn went up 50 cents, the 12,000-bushel bin of corn was now worth 6000 dollars more and could pay for three or me.

I guess, a Hotel does not make money with staff; they make money by having more rooms, and renting the rooms. I have lived in hotels for 10 years and I am continually amazed how dirty, filthy and unsanitary hotels can be. One reason I almost refuse to stay in a high end or expensive hotel is this, when I pay 6 dollars and the room is dirty, or not quite good, I sort of think, I am getting a good value for my money. When I pay 50 dollars for a room, and there is no maintenance of the place is dirty, I am angry.

I was in the Frenchie hotel on the Island of Saint Martin on the French side of the island. I paid about 50 US per night and there were many cockroaches coming from a former kitchen area. The hotel I am in is cleaner and I am paying 6 dollars, this starts to really cause a problem in the brain. There are photos of the cockroaches in the site somewhere.

I have not found a good correlation between the cost of the room and the quality of the maintenance workers. I really want maintenance workers more than housekeepers, I can clean the room, the plumbing, doors, mirrors and lights become more complicated for me to fix, however I often do repairs.

What is mind boggling to me is why a hotel with labor that works for 1 dollar per day, cannot be clean. It is amazing on the planet, not just Africa that there is this idea, here is room, take it or leave it. When I find a manager that tries to guarantee my room and sheets are clean, I am elated, maybe about 1 in 50. Other than that, I just hope for clean sheets, and do the rest myself. It is strange, but the world does pretty well at cleaning sheets, excluding India and some Arab countries.

Somewhere in my typing, I am going to figure out, what is happening, why the quality of work performed by humans is so minimal. It really does seem impossibly easy to have a good hotel, you just check and keep the staff cleaning, yet better yet hire many maintenance people.

I managed homes in the USA, I had maintenance workers, and they did the same sloppy work. I was paying them 8-15 dollar per hour, the cost of labor was a huge factor, I always wanted to manage a place where I could just have 5 workers doing a project and the cost of wages was not even a consideration. I learned in Mexico though, it takes 8 workers to replace one American working construction; I could do the work of 8 workers in one day. However, Stan my friend had slowly found workers in Mexico that worked all day, a good worker likes to work, they do not like to sit.

Togo Hotel Workers

The Morals of a Mop

The Morals of a Mop
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 27, 2007

It is finally hitting me, I am in a Catholic world, I am in West Africa, I am not in a Buddhist world, and I the floors are dirty. Hindus do mop, but with a very dirty rag, the Islamic need to clean their feet a lot for a reason.

I have a bad habit, I do not think I can break it, I like or walk around barefoot in my hotels rooms. I am not going to, and do not want to wear sandals in my room. I feel the most comfortable with no shoes, I have went for a long as one month with never wearing a shoe in Mexico on the beach. I do not like shoes or sandals, I like sandals or flip flops better than any confine my feet shoes.

Options here in Togo:

1. Get into bed with very dirty feet, make the sheet dirty and force the management to change the sheet daily.

2. Ask the management of the hotels to mop the rooms. I will do this sometimes in some countries, whereby I can find the mop, then do or hope to finish the job myself. However, the mop is normally so disgusting and the water so filthy, I do not even consider this option. I do have people mop in Asia, as they will use a rag and do on their hands and knees.

3. Ask for a towel, maybe they give me a towel, then I use it to mop the floor.
I THINK FEASIBLE IN ABOUT 50 PERCENT TO 80 PERCENT OF HOTEL - I think they will give me a towel to shower, if I ask, I have never asked in the month or so here in Africa and only one gave me a towel without asking, the Galion in Lome, Togo.

4. Find a rug and use as a mop. This option has worked in two hotels and is possible on a small scale.

5. I buy something to use a mop. This is a good option, however, the problem is this, to clean a mop takes a lot of work, I need to really clean it, and rinse it. Then it must dry, this is the essential problem, to dry a mop or something very wet is difficult, and then the question is, do you or I want to carry around the rag part of a dirty or cleaned rag part of a mop in our backpacks or suitcases.

I just do not know, I think an extremely small maybe nylon, does not absorb, not cotton, but fast drying small, cut up towel could work. I could put it in a one-gallon zip lock bag or a black plastic bag.

Hmm, do I need a mop handle?

There must be more options, but I am tired of thinking.

The Morals of a Mop.

I think this is to me a small moral, ethical and manners issue, and probably does not bother only about one percent of the travelers of the planet.

Option 1, I get in a bed with dirty feet, then force them to clean the sheets daily. This is normal traveler and tourist expectations and they have no moral or ethical problem with telling the staff to change the sheets. I do not allow people to clean my room, I clean my room, I do not want them to enter my room, I do not care how much I pay, I very seldom allow staff to clean my room. I do not want to stash, protect, hide my cameras, computer, cell phone constantly. It takes me a lot of work to prepare to allow a person to enter my room. One good thing, I have went to chaining my bag to the chair, it is becoming faster and quick to have all the essential valuables chained to the TV, bed or something difficult to move, I have began to allow some cleaning in the room, however only when managed by me.

There is this ecological issue that is floating around in rooms of the world, I will see signs, about not cleaning sheets, or only every three to six days to preserve or limit the amount of detergents entering the water table. I tend to agree, I think cleaning sheets after two or three uses is ok. I will often just grab the sheets in a better hotel and change them myself. In a hotel that is cleaner, there are sheets sitting around in many places and easy to find, because they are changing the sheets often.

On a funny, I was in Amlame, and the owner went and got some packaged sheets, he kept hitting the pack of sheets, trying to get the dust off of the package. Then he opened, the sheets had been ironed and cleaned, and they were rock hard creases in the folds of the sheets, the sheets had not been used in months. I do not think they included sheets with a room, the people slept on the mattress.

This is common in India to never change sheets or clean in some hotels, the covers or blankets in any country are suspect and not cleaned, the heavier the blanket the more likely it has been used by many and more than you want to know clients.

Moral - Ethics - Values - Manners

I am in a problem area of living in hotels. The easy option it to use a white or clean rug, or a sheet, or the table cloth in my present room. Grab a sheet, towel or something from the hotel staff and mop the floor. I consider it very bad manner to use a table cloth to mop the floor and I doubt they will ever get it cleaned, I would be ruining a good table cloth.

A white rug or light colored rug is the same, I have no qualms about using a dark rug, as I know it is very dirty already and not going to make a difference.
Requiring a person that is dirty by nature, never has cleaned something good in their lives to clean my room good is maybe bad manners. Like expecting a person from India to be clean, not really fair, or to expect a person from Thailand to not squat or try to squat on a western style toilet.

I am in West Africa, I must accept the standards of their country, it is a little onerous to expect special treatment.

3 to ask for a towel is an easy option, but that towel will never be the same again, it will always be damaged or dirty. This makes the towel bad for the next client, and also ruins a towel, or cost the hotel money.

If I ask the hotel for a mop, I am saying to the hotel.
- Your hotel is dirty, I want to clean, because I do not trust you. -

I can clean my room all day, they do not care, they do not get annoyed by me cleaning my own room. There is not a sense of guilt on the planet by me cleaning my own room, like it is their job. 1 in 50 yes though and those hotels are precious and difficult to find. However, just because the manager thinks this, does not mean the cleaning people agree.

I think I have only one option, I need to buy a towel, cut it up into three pieces and use my foot for a handle, or my hand. Then comes the question, do I use the dip shower bucket for a bucket or my own? I hope I can find a bucket here that is not for showering.

Cultural manners to me, requires I do not expect my values of clean, work, justice, etc to apply in the country I am visiting, I consider is extremely bad manners to expect western style quality in a 6 dollar hotel. On the other hand, if I paid the 50-100 US of the silly Americans, I would be so frustrated trying to get the room cleaned, the maintenance done, in the end, I do it myself.

In Mexico, I lived on a beach for up to six months, I hired cleaning girls to come to my room and work the day cleaning my room. This is a great option however difficult to find a cleaning lady that fast. On a very strange side note, I can find a girl that will sleep with me for a 5000 CFA cadeau or gift and be my girlfriend. She will clean the room, and will continue to clean until I am happy, because that is what the do best, try to take care of a man. Another ethical question and taxing to my soul.

Ok, today I try to buy a towel, to use as a mop, I will store in a plastic bag to carry from place to place.

I prefer to stay 10 days in every hotel. The first 3 days, I find the best room, if I did not choose the best on the first try. I choose the best room in the hotel about 75 percent of the time now, when I first started I just accepted and room and made some very bad choices.

The 10 day rule of rooms means.

10 plus 10 plus 10 equal 30 days.
30 Days in a month.
9 days for preparing the rooms.

I have about 5 days of life or living in a room whereby I feel uncomfortable. If I move quickly from a hotel, it means I do not like the city or the hotel. Normally a manners or trust issue.

25 days of high quality living 5 days of nonchalant arranging and working on the room. If a person thought for one second about how much time they spend cleaning their own home, they would and could evaluate and see, I spend about they spend 10 times the amount of time working on their homes than me living in a hotel room.

Yet, when they get in a hotel room, they turn into hotel dictators or fat slobs that want to demand services from hotels. Or on an even worst thought, many just ignore that the hotel is dirty. I do not like India because it is impossible for me to be the same as the other travelers and ignore the grime and dirt, I would need to live in a hotel for 30 days and hire two cleaning person to work daily to be comfortable. Goa has some exceptions to this idea.

I laugh when I see a person ask for a towel in a hotel. Then they think I am dirty, I wash my own towels and know who clean it, normally me, I do not have to share a towel with every person who has ever entered the hotel. This same person that will share a towel with everyone will then hoover over the toilet seat. Seems like they would buy some alcohol and clean it, and do a good job, but because they paid for a room, they feel they cannot clean or work on the room, all take and no give. When I manage homes and owned homes, a good tenant would make the home better and when the left, the place was improved, this happens in about 5 percent of homes, and my friend Walt interviews and gets about 95 percent of tenants that leave the place better than when it started. I would say, I fix on average one to two maintenance problems per hotel and would do more if I had the tools and supplies, I consider a dirty room normal, I consider a broken faucet lazy.

Mops, Gear, West Africa Gear, Hotel Room Choosing, Room Cleaning, Togo,

The Morals of a Mop

Observation Makes Change Happen

Observation Makes Change Happen
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 26, 2007

I have a problem, when I think of Africa, I instantly think problems. I suspect I am more opens than most, as I have people say to me,
- Why would I go to Africa? -
I am here, they are not… an observation.

Like, why would I go and have problems, AIDS - SIDA - Poverty, Crime, Warlords, Desert, and Black People.

I say the Black People because in the real world people pay attention to color. I do not, but they do.

In Thailand; they put cream on their skin that makes them whiter. I like their brown color and it really annoys me. Then in reverse, I have black people here, which think because I am from the USA or White, I am smarter, nothing make sense. I really do not care what color a person skin is. Or if for some stupid reason, I wanted to be around White People, I guess I would go to some Russian Country, I was going to say Sweden, however I think it is invaded now by Palestine people.

I am slowly understanding, there are not big problems in West Africa. Thailand or the USA has more AIDS or at least a better chance of getting it, as they think they do not have it, and this is the dangerous.

However, being here, somehow, for some reason, my free time for enjoyment is optimized in West Africa, I find I think, and the problem is I think of problems to solve… aagh, I really do not care about all these people on the planet, I just want to enjoy life, yet, by nature, I am a problem solver.

I am having trouble finding any real problems to solve here in West Africa and everyone keeps tell me there are problems. I am starting to say,
- Can you be more specific, where, the exact city, the place, the persons, I want to go and see. -

The Togo people and West Africa people can go into a long story on why they are suffering, it is like a canned speech with the hope of free money. Like the lies a person tells he unemployment office to keep them checks coming.

This is why I say,
- Observation Makes Change Happen. -
The more I observer, the clearer I am on the realties, and the easier to accept, I do not want people to have unsolved problems, I know I am not responsible, but I am good problem solver.

I went and looked up the Scientific Method in the Encarta Encyclopedia, and is seems confused.

I decided to go to is anyone can grind and issue into the ground and cover every inch, they can.


Scientific method
- is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence, subject to specific principles of reasoning.

The scientific method involves the following basic facets:
1. Observation. A constant feature of scientific inquiry.
2. Description
3. Prediction
4. Control
5. Falsifiability, or the elimination of plausible alternatives.
6. Causal explanation
7. Identification of causes
8. Covariation of events
9. Time-order relationship

Boring, yet essential for a person to work on a problem, I need a game plan.

Number 1 is observation.

I have many suggestions sent to me, posted on the comments of the blog, on pages, and drilled at me.

I started on this vein of thinking this morning, and then was refocused on it later today for a funny reason. I was walking back from the Truck Stop area, after eating a Gateau, and making sure to flirt with Bernadette in the Telephone Cabine.

A man that I just said hello to, starts to wave at me, and wants me to look back, at another man, I said hello to about 50 meters back. I looked back before I knew what to think, and then said to myself,
- They got me again. -

I ignored them both, and kept walking, I know they are way too lazy to run 50 meters for the stupid reason they want to talk. I have OBSERVED that 99 percent of conversations are of soap opera value, and from a person I do not know, then there is a 1 in 999 chance of benefit, and about 1 in 10 chance of the start of an entangling problem, the problem is to talk with people who want to talk. I find I need to talk with the people who do not want to talk with me.


On a web page we deal a lot with Permissions, how to grant permissions and edit, delete, and ban. It is annoying, and for sure, India and Nigeria are on the list of countries where just a whole country ban would be easier. They are very creative, and come up with ways of being sneaky and corrupt faster than we can change or alter the permissions and filters.

Observation Makes Change Happen

I need to change, I am from Indiana, we say hello, I say hello to everyone it is my nature. The men and sometimes the women here in West Africa can be outrageously Nigeria and India in nature… Hehehe

I need to set up rules of permission to talk with me, and this is difficult, my Yee Boh - White Man culture says, everyone when coming with respect has a right to talk or I will listen.

Nevertheless, I have OBSERVED and maybe this is why New York people can get cold as ice. When you have a never-ending queue of people trying to get your attention, the easy solution is to ignore all of them.

However, this cold as ice, is not me.

Respect and manners, this does NOT have anything to do with educations and for sure, the most well mannered people I meet in West Africa have the least amount of education. Also probably have the lowest caste of West Africa and nobody listens to them.

I have been observing how Togo people try to get my attention.

Yee Bow is the most common, which means White Man in the local language.

Yee Bow said by children, and I listen and pay attention, Yee Bow said by children above the age of 10 and above to 80 and dead, I ignore. Permissions set.

Vra or Va is come here in the local language, I have heard it so many times, and I am able to separate the Ghana from the Togo and Benin versions.

What I have observed, and I am in the Beta Testing of this, is that if I ignore them, they do not get angry, they just think, the White Man did not hear. However, even if I hear, ignoring is a macho thing, and to be more macho, I stare at them and ignore. Second phase.

What they say to get my attention:

Yeh bow
Spsssst sound
Donnez moi
Call Andre
Stare at me
Speak English
Follow you
Grab you
Holler until I turn around, then demand I come
Tell someone else to holler at me, which is closer.

This is my list of observations, or I have observed and paided attention, there is this many ways of trying to get my attention and I will continue to add to the list.

I could also list the lead-in for the people who want to ask for money.

- I am a Catholic Priest
- Fame
- Sufrir
- Hands are out to take from me.
- I work for ONG or NGO or this and that.
- Any preacher
- People that want to look at my cell phone

I want to set the enjoyment level of my day; I want to set the standards of how to have an enjoyable day. Well, to do this, I have to first ignore the list of comments, and then my day is wonderful. Funny thing about nice people, they are shy, smile a lot, and do not holler at me.

West Africa is a wonderful place, and I have observed that only about 1 in 30 people I am walking by will demand I come and talk, the normal in the world, is about 1 in 100 in other countries or 1 in 200. Demanding you come and talk is the operative word, I think this is a class system thing, and there is this domination by men, I am going to be get your attention, and you are going to listen to me, like some police in the USA, same kind of crap.

However, part of being Macho is to ignore the small pups, not my nature, but I have observed I need to change and do this, however keep the door open to enjoy the cultures I like here. Truthfully, just to never talk with the men of Africa is a reasonable set of permissions to apply.

Cities do something to the minds of people.

Fun and games in Togo, I am having a great day, because I do more things in a day that make me happy, then things that make me sad. I think the first thing in happiness is the ability to say no, what is left over is great. Note, these people are amateurs compared to India.

I sometimes call this all my,
- Lead us not into Temptation Theory. -

What is operative here in this, I can see that many judgments or thoughts can be overwhelmed to the point of veracity. I hear about the problems of Africa so long, I assume they are correct. I sometimes pay attention to the bad mannered people of West Africa until I forget to notice the majority of nice people.

I observe, then I change, however I need to apply some reasoning, and I am not sure reasoning can be taught. Can I evaluate correctly, there is always self-doubt.

When making an observation, when I finally observe and understand, there is a path to change opened. Life is very good here in West Africa for the people, how long do I have to be here, until I can forget how many people have told me it bad. Life is very good here, it is obvious.

I was thinking, when I hope, it is not important I observe my environment, I have continually adjusted it until it works. This day in day out adapting to changing environments make the powers of observation more keen and sharp.

An observations, I have many people tell me the USA world policy is causing problems. I ask,
- Tell me specifically which ones. -

Normally they have trouble with one, they are just being Parrots, if you want to know how well a person observed something, ask them to list out specifics.

Togo How Do I Feel

Togo How Do I Feel
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 26, 2007

After my Motorcycle accident.
I am getting these small email from my parents, how do you feel, are you ok, do you need something

How do I feel?

feel like I was doing a two a day American Football practice in August and am very worn and tired.

I was a middle linebacker, I remember when I screamed through the line and sacked the quarterback in scrimmage.

Now, this brings on a torrent of screams from the coach, the Center and the Left Guard are worried, if it happens again, the coach say,
- You are going to run the ridge till Hell Freezes over. -
I have embarrassed them.

On the next play, for some strange reason, I am out of play, I fall down in the backfield around where the safeties would be, as I am getting up, the Left Guard and Center see me, I am out of play. But, I am the threat, they decide to take the cheap shot, as my knees clear the ground, I am hollering, hey, I am out of play. This is just scrimmage we are on the same team.

They take the shot, two fat, overweight, farm boys from Indiana, with a head of steam do a dive block into me at about rib level, I am on my knees, they plough me into the ground, I am punished.

This is a real story and this is how I feel, like I got punished by two very large Farm boys in Indiana who wanted payback.

What can you say, it is over, it happened, I was in a motorcycle accident, I accept it hurts. I really do not have problem with physical pain, it is pretty normal in travel to not be comfortable.

I was trying to avoid the fight with the Peugeot Car Taxis, this is why I was on the Moto, I wanted to be more comfortable. It is real ineffective to talk about pain, explain pain, it passes, I broke my femur in four places and walked around on crutches for a year. I know 99 percent nobody cares, yes they can give platitudes and comments, but who cares, I had to let the time pass, then all was ok. It is very easy to say you care, difficult to show it.

All the comments were just reminders I was damaged. Now, then again, my parents are worried, and they do not see American Football as dangerous, they can relate, understand me feeling pain for the home team.

Time allows all pain to pass, I have no choice, it will go away, I am positive of this, if I wait and try not to push to hard, time will heal all my pains in life, both physical and mental.

Health, Injury, Sports, Togo, Moto, Motorcycles, Motorcycle Taxi, Tranportation

Togo How Do I Feel

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